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Common Intention is doubtful, benefit must inure to the accused; acquitted for Murder: SC

The SC on May 4, 2020 {CHELLAPPA v. STATE THROUGH THE INSPECTOR OF POLICE} held from a perusal of the impugned High Court judgment, it is clear that no reasoning or evidence has been advanced as to the fulfillment of the requirements   for  the   conviction   of  the accused­-appellant   under Section 34 IPC in the present case.

The SC Bench, comprising of Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice R. Subhash Reddy & Justice B.R. Gavai held that the   sole   allegation   against   the   accused-appellant   is   that   he inflicted an injury on the head of PW1, the father of the deceased, by using an aruval. The Court held that PW1 and PW2, the two eyewitnesses to the incident, clearly stated in their respective testimonies about the role of the accused-­appellant in injuring PW1. It was held that the injuries sustained by PW1 have been proved under medical examination vide the evidence of PW11 and Ex. P21, i.e., the accident register. It was held, further, recovery of the aruval was made pursuant to the confession statement (Ex. P15) made by the accused­-appellant, clearly establishing the guilt of the accused-appellant with respect to causing hurt to PW1. 

The SC held that it is clear from the record that there is no allegation by the prosecution, or any statement by the two eye witnesses, PW1 and PW2, regarding the infliction of any injury by the accused-­appellant on the deceased. As such, it was held that the conviction of the accused­-appellant under Section 302 IPC was done by initially reading Section 302 IPC with Section 149,IPC, and subsequently, on the acquittal of A2, A4 and A5 of all offences by the High Court, by reading Section 302 IPC with Section 34 IPC.

In the present case, the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant under Section   302   read   with   Section   149   IPC   was   converted   into   the conviction under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC by the High Court. However, the conviction imposed on the accused­-appellant under Section 324 of the IPC was confirmed by the High Court. Resultantly, for   the offence   punishable   under   Section   302   read   with Section   34   of   the   IPC,   the   accused­-appellant   was   sentenced   to undergo imprisonment for life by the High Court. The said judgment of conviction and sentence was assailed before the SC.

The SC held that a perusal of the circumstantial evidence in the case does not clearly indicate that the accused­-appellant had common intention with the main accused to kill the deceased. The Court held that in fact, from the statement of PW2, it is clear that at the time of the incident the main accused was the only person who reacted to the words of the deceased and his family members asking them to make way, and stabbed the deceased in the spur of the moment. It was held by the SC that as such, when some doubt exists as to the common intention animating the accused­-appellant, the same must inure to the benefit of the accused­-appellant.

Therefore, it was held by the SC that after carefully perusing the material placed on record, the Court is of the opinion that the conviction and sentence of the accused­-appellant under Section 302 IPC read with Section 34 IPC deserves to be set aside as the same is not proved beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, the appeal was partly allowed by the SC. Accused-­appellant was acquitted of the offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC by the SC.

However, the SC did not interfere with the conviction of the accused­-appellant for the offence under Section 324, IPC and his sentence thereof, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 3 years.   As the accused-­appellant had already undergone the period sentenced for his conviction under Section 324 IPC and therefore, the SC directed his release forthwith, and the appeal was accordingly disposed of.


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